CHICAGO — Some 4,000 members of Service Employees International Union Local 73 are in the second week of their strike at the University of Illinois Hospital here and several of its other facilities around the state. Members of the Illinois Nurses Association began returning to work Sept. 19 after a week on the picket lines, while continuing to negotiate for a contract.
The nurses and SEIU members — clerical, technical, professional, service and maintenance workers — report constant staffing shortages and overwork.
News reports that the University of Illinois agreed to hire 200 more nurses are “accurate, but we want to hold them accountable and put it in the contract,” Doris Carroll, president of the Illinois Nurses Association, told the Militant Sept. 21. “We don’t know when they’ll be hired. There’s been very little movement in negotiations” since the return to work. More than 800 nurses took part in the strike. Another 525 were forced to work by a court injunction.
Over 1,000 members of the nurses association, SEIU and supporters marched through downtown Chicago Sept. 18 to rally in front of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office, demanding he take action to support their fight. Pritzker sits on the university’s board of trustees.
SEIU strikers are demanding a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Some make $12 or less. The hospital claims that as a state institution it does not have to meet the Chicago minimum wage, currently $14 and scheduled to reach $15 next year.